As with clothes, the way you decorate a room expresses your personality. Most ideally, it signals to guests how you interpret yourself. Admittedly, this is a notion I never honored, writing myself off as “good at getting dressed, but not great at decorating.” This may still be true, but in today’s edition of Real Cool Apartments, Man Repeller visits my (Leandra!) home, which I moved into last fall. It was empty when we found the place, like a blank canvas, which meant I had unprecedented power to dress it how I wanted. This intimidated the hell out of me, and thus with help from Decorist (who donated their services)and their partners: Bed, Bath & Beyond, Buy Buy Baby and Consort (who donated the furniture), we decorated four empty rooms that I am thrilled to say feature nary a single neon couch with giraffes embroidered into it (this is something I actually asked for). Interview and slideshow below.
Neighborhood, # of rooms:
Sort of the intersection that connects Soho to Chinatown to Little Italy and Nolita.
How long have you lived here?
Not even one year, but almost one year.
What do you like about the neighborhood?
I love that it doesn’t quite know what it is — but as a result, is almost defined by this trait of uncertainty. I’m not sure that it’s influenced my home aesthetic to any sweeping degree but it is possible that it’s helped me find psychological and philosophical comfort with uncertainty. To be fair, I’m probably reaching.
Who do you live with (animals included)?
My husband, our two daughters and exactly eight Wi-Fi generated devices.
What did you think about when decorating?
Initially, I thought I was after a Scandinavian minimalist vibe. I figured that because my personal style in fashion is erratic and can be so loud, living in a space that feels quiet and somewhat scarce would provide a relieving contrast, but I suppose a tiger can’t change her stripes because I landed on a hodgepodge of references that have been forced to commingle and in my view, somehow work well together. Now that I think about it, I guess my neighborhood has inspired my design style. It doesn’t know what this is, but that’s what it is! You know? No? Okay. I don’t think I’ve exactly come into my decorating style yet; I still feel very much at the beginning but expect that like most other creative pursuits, to remain interesting it will have to be iterative.
What do you do for work?
I run a media brand called Man Repeller. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of it, but it’s a site that connects people to each other through the art of intelligent storytelling. We take fashion very seriously for playing a key role in the formation of this connective tissue, but don’t let it override our highest calling of creating a safe space that helps make our community feel better understood and less alone.
If we were a fly on the wall of your home for a weekend, what would we typically see?
Depends on the time of year. Over Christmas break, I hope you’ll see me part-naked in an over-caffeinated tizzy, dancing around the great room with my daughters one at a time. On a regular weekend, I spend a lot of time seated at the dining room table with my laptop or a newspaper.
What do you think your home says about you? And how do you want visitors to feel when they walk into it?
That I have a lot of things to say and I don’t want to compromise the articulation of any of those things! No matter how deeply they run counter to each other because I will show you why they don’t. That’s not what I want visitors to feel, though — I keep three bowls of candy on a coffee table next to the couch because I want people to associate coming over with being fed sweets. The thrill of junk food never gets old! I’m not a regular house, I’m a cool house. We also keep spa music playing and are often running essential oils through a diffuser, which is dramatic, but keeps the vibe so zen.
Where is your favorite place in your home and why?
The kitchen counter — I sit there every morning from 7:30 to 8:30 across Edith Young’s art historical palette prints while my daughters are cat napping post-morning feed and do some of my best work. It’s still quiet enough that emails don’t delude my sense of professional priorities, but late enough that I don’t feel desperately alone in my sitting there, working.
What are your favorite home “scores”?
The whole damn apartment is a score in my view! Aside from a couch and a lot of the accouterments, all of the furniture, exquisite dining area light fixture included, are from Bed Bath & Beyond.
What’s something about your home you want to change and why?
I don’t feel like changing anything at this juncture (except maybe finding appropriate storage space for my kids’ high chairs) but I am sensitive to the energy that I bring into it, so I think about what it takes to change energy and how I want people to feel (kind of like they’re at a spa where there is candy but you are always invited to hang out and use my living room as if it’s your own — and by the way there are grapes in the fridge! Help yourself) when they are over.
What’s something you’ve been looking for forever but still have yet to find?
Consistent peace of mind?
Where do you look for decorating inspiration?
The backgrounds of mirror selfies on Instagram.
What’s the best piece of decorating wisdom you’ve ever heard?
Remember it’s not an outfit, you have to live with it longer than the day you wear it. But here’s one I want to drop, too: If the framework is “timeless” enough — that is, the fundamental pieces of furniture like your couches and tables and bed and what not are quiet enough, you can go HAM on the accessory front. Throw pillows! Gallery walls (use Framebridge, they are fast)! Rugs and light fixtures GALORE.
Photos by Heidi’s Bridge, nursery photos by Seth Caplan.
Nursery Design: Decorist Creative Director, Jessica McCarthy
Master Bedroom, Dining Area and Living Room Design: Decorist Celebrity Design project with Consort
Special thanks to: Bed, Bath & Beyond, California Closets and Buy Buy Baby